By Mark McGoldrick
IN 2019, Derrygonnelly came within a kick of a ball of beating Kilcoo in the Ulster Championship semi-final.
Over the course of the game, the Harps played the better football, dominating most areas of the pitch but a momentary lapse of concentration saw Conor Laverty take a quick free to Aaron Branagan who fired the ball to the net. Game over.
The pain of the defeat still lingers in the mind of Derrygonnelly captain Ryan Jones.
“That was two years ago. There is going to be a lot of the players still involved in both camps but I do think that both teams will have changed slightly in their style of play and new players have came in for both teams.
“You can read into it a wee bit but I think this is going to be a completely different game in that Kilcoo are still the team to beat in Ulster and we are still challenging to try and overcome that hurdle.
“We will take as much as we can from two years ago but also try and pick up a few bits and pieces on what Kilcoo have done this year as well.”
Jones watched Sunday’s semi-final on TV as Kilcoo overcame Glen in extra time to book their place in the Ulster showpiece.
He knows that Derrygonnelly will be up against it in mid-January.
“I thought Kilcoo were very impressive in how they went about their game-plan. I thought they nullified Glen’s major threats and I thought over the whole game that they looked the better team and deserved their win. They have a lot of key players and they have a forward line where every one of they are fit to play county football with Down, if they are not already.”
The Derrygonnelly skipper recognises that Kilcoo will be favourites for the Seamus McFerran Cup but he is adamant that it doesn’t bother the Harps.
“We will definitely be the underdogs. People are tipping Kilcoo for the All-Ireland, even before they played Glen there who are another serious team.
“Kilcoo are a better team than they were two years ago when they went all the way to the All-Ireland final so of course it is going to be a massive task for us.
“We have four weeks now to try and prepare as well as we can.”